Summoner's Tales
Brisbane, AUEntertainment Centre

Simple fun from complex rocker...

When someone draws on Chaucer for the name of their latest album you know you are dealing with a more complicated than usual rock star. This is, after all, the only man to incorporate a melody from Prokofiev into a pop song and who can cram his tunes with puns and allusions the way Umberto Eco crammed them into a book.

This was going to be a difficult tour for Sting, you would have thought, given the darker colours of his recent albums, and coming from a man who clearly could not care less that he was once rock music's biggest star but will never be again.

His Brisbane Entertainment Centre show last night kicked off with the pensive 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You': eminently singable but with the dark undercurrent apparent in even his biggest hits. 'Seven Days' and 'Heavy Cloud No Rain' are typical of his later work with jazz and funk twists, but they are tunes that creep into your head and stay there.

The band this time is stripped back; Sting on bass with a guit ar ist and drummer and piano legend David Sancious. There's no doubting their musical credentials but it was the way they adapted to the music from each phase of Sting's long career that helped create such a buzzing atmosphere. The Police hits, naturally, earnt some of the biggest cheers, a bubbling 'Every Little Thing' and inventively updated and extended 'Roxanne' among them.

The band was game to attempt the Beatles song no one ever covers, 'A Day In The Life', triumphantly reproducing with just eight hands what took countless hours in the studio to produce in the first place. The reaction to these familiar songs was predictable enough, but what must have been more pleasing for Sting is how many of the crowd knew so many of the new songs so well.

One of the best of these, the almost hymnal 'Fields Of Gold', proved that even though Sting may be a rich man living in a country mansion he's still got what it takes to write songs as good as in the days when he was a hungry and ambitious young man who had arrived in London with hardly a penny to his name. As it turned out this wasn't a difficult gig at all: it was a lot of fun.

(c) The Courier-Mail by Noel Mengel